Sheriff Paul Gann announces Safe Passage Program
Information available from Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) states that there were 1,946 overdose related deaths in Illinois for the year of 2016. That rate is 1 and 1/2 times greater than the homicide rate and nearly twice the number of fatal accidents, as reported by IDPH.
The opioid epidemic continues to spread across the country. The overdoses associated with this epidemic has led to a death rate that has surpassed other causes of death. In an effort to provide another avenue for treatment for those who suffer from opioid addiction, The Mason County Sheriff's Office has initiated a "Safe Passage Program.
This program is designed to serve several purposes. First, and foremost, is to help those who recognize their addiction get access to help. Secondly, is to get that access without first being incarcerated and facing criminal charges. Third, take that first step to remove the social stigmatization normally associated with addiction.
What is the goal? The goal is to attack the opioid epidemic that has led to far to many overdoses throughout the state. This epidemic does not recognize specific demographics, it respects no boundaries, and does not discriminate against a persons social or economic status.
What was past practice? Simple to state. The individual either gets arrested and faces incarceration or keeps using, and using, and using until they overdose. Sometimes the overdose leads to death. A death that was avoidable.
The law enforcement, judicial system, and other first responder communities have employed different tactics to assist persons suffering from addiction. Law enforcement officers and ambulance crews carry Narcan to administer to an overdose victim. In-patient treatment while incarcerated and/or drug court has been made available but that is after criminal charges have been filed. Those criminal charges do not help your addiction, they dig you deeper in debt and increase stress on you and your family.
Safe Passage; The Basics. Any Mason County resident, who suffers from opioid addiction, may come to the sheriff's office and request "Safe Passage" consideration. IF that person has any drugs or drug paraphernalia it can be turned in and there will be no criminal charges. The person will then be put in contact with a deputy for the sole purpose of screening for the program. The deputy will then contact a "guide", who will then attempt to place those who are eligible, into a treatment program. The time line goal from walking in door to entry into some type of treatment plan is within 12 to 24 hours. The individual seeking safe passage must do so willingly and be cooperative with the process. Anyone who may pose a risk to the guide or person conducting the transport will be denied access to the program.
Who is not eligible? If the participant has an active warrant, is a sex offender, has multiple drug convictions (one of which must be for delivery), a person under the age of 18 (unless you have a parent present), persons who are violent or may pose a threat to the guide or transporter are not eligible. This will be determined during the screening process.
If you suffer from drug addiction, please seek help. Call a hotline number, enter treatment yourself, or if you need a person to help you get into treatment, come to the Mason County Sheriff's Office located at 102 W. Market Street, Havana Illinois and ask for Safe Passage.
This is only one resource. Those who suffer opioid addiction should also consider one of the many Drug Addiction Hotline phone numbers available advertised on TV and in phone books. You can also research services on line using the internet.
One available resource is the hotline number established by the Illinois Task Force on Opioid Addiction, that number is 1-833-2FINDHELP. This particular program is funded by a federal grant
A message from Sheriff Gann. "The opioid epidemic that is spreading across this country is unprecedented. The funding is being made available at the federal and state level for treatment facilities and education. First responders are reaching out to help by administering Narcan, attending awareness training and starting programs such as Safe Passage. Everybody is reaching out to you, grab that hand and let us help you."
If you are considering Safe Passage, but have questions, call Sheriff Paul Gann at (309) 303-0182.